Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe offers a piece on the Patriots depth, examining what the Patriots had to overcome to rise to the top of the AFC East. They have made 45 transactions affecting the roster and practice squad since the season began. While some of those moves were re-signings of players such as offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski and cornerback Antwain Spann, the number of transactions easily marks the Patriots' highest total since coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Scott Pioli were hired in 2000. The previous high was 39, in that 2000 season. This year's 45 transactions have involved 28 players. Reiss takes a long look at how the Pats have shaped up.
The Boston Herald's Michael Felger explains why the New York Jets are the Patriots most wanted foe entering the playoffs. The Jets cleared up the AFC playoff picture considerably with their Monday night win at Miami. Now if the final weekend breaks down the way the wise guys in Las Vegas believe it will, the Patriots first- and second-round matchups are all set. It's home against Denver in the wild card game and then, with a win, out to San Diego for the second round. For that scenario to play out, Indianapolis must take care of Miami at home Sunday, the Jets need to handle Oakland at the Meadowlands and the Broncos have to dismiss San Francisco in Denver. The Colts are early 7-point favorites, the Jets are giving 11 points to the woeful Raiders and Denver is favored by 10. If those numbers play out, it doesn't matter whether the Pats win or lose at Tennessee on Sunday. They're locked in. Felger takes a team-by-team approach to potential playoff matchups.
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald takes a look at this year in Boston sports, declaring "we are about to bid farewell to a year that Boston sports fans will not be pressing into their scrapbooks." Disappointing though 2006 may have been, there was at least hope. Put another way, things have come a long, long way from the dark days of 2000 and 2001, where none of New England's major four teams made it to the playoffs.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald features tight end David Thomas. Thomas, who caught three passes in the 40-7 win over the Houston Texans [team stats], followed that with five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 24-21 victory in Jacksonville. Included are odds and ends impacting the team.
Hector Longo of The Eagle-Tribune offers five reason the Patriots are looking Super right now. "On the five-year anniversary of Tom Brady's maiden voyage to greatness, the Pats are looking eerily familiar," writes Longo. His five reasons include: Belichick, the fresh legs offered by the return of some injured players and the defense. "The New England football faithful, thanks to Sunday's 24-21 fistfight win at Jacksonville, has to be flashing back to 2001," writes Longo.
The Boston Globe offers an editorial on Massachusetts' antiscalping law, which forbids the resale of tickets for more than $2 above face value. Questions as to the law's effectiveness have been raised recently because last month, the Patriots accused the Internet company StubHub of flouting the law. The courts, presumably, will settle only the legal dispute -- but not the question of whether the state's existing law is wise. "It isn't. The Legislature ought to repeal the antiscalping law when it takes up the issue next year," argues the Globe.
Don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, which was updated recently.